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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Resignation Statement from PCC Shaun Wright

Resignation Statement  from PCC Shaun Wright

“I formally tender my resignation from the Labour Party. However, I remain committed to, and intend to remain in, my role as an Independent Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire.

I entered into public service over twenty years ago to make a positive difference. Protecting vulnerable people has been my number one priority as Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire. I have had to make the difficult decision to stand down from the Labour Party and it's with deep regret that I've come to that decision.

I've dedicated my career and life to serving the public of South Yorkshire. As a father, and a citizen of South Yorkshire, my thoughts are with the victims and their families and I reiterate my apology to them and take full responsibility for my part in the collective failures which took place at Rotherham Council during the time I was in office and indeed to that end I resigned in 2010.

I stand by my earlier comments that I've taken that experience to deliver a major transformation in the way South Yorkshire Police deals with horrific crimes such as child sexual exploitation, and much progress has been made since I was elected as Commissioner in terms of supporting victims, taking preventive action, increasing awareness of the issue and bringing criminals to justice. I was elected to deliver the people’s policing and crime priorities in South Yorkshire and I intend to see that duty through by leading the force on that urgent, and fundamental, journey of improvement for the sake of past, present and potential victims, who are the most important people in all of this.”

YouGov's Kellner predicts re-election of Green MP

A respected polling expert has put Caroline Lucas, the UK’s first Green MP, on course to hold her Brighton parliamentary seat after a summer of encouraging poll indicators. Peter Kellner, President of the YouGov polling company, has singled out Ms Lucas as the exception to his national predictions of rising support for Labour, saying she is likely to hold her Brighton Pavilion seat in his forecast for the general election, outlined in the September edition of current affairs magazine Prospect.

Gazing into his psephological crystal ball, the former BBC Newsnight political analyst says Ms Lucas will successfully defend her slim 1,252 majority in Brighton over Labour, while he predicts a Labour Government with an overall majority of 30 seats.

Adam McGibbon, national Green Party General Election Campaign Manager said, “No one is taking anything for granted in our corner; it will be a tough contest and things can change but to have a respected pollster like Peter Kellner predict that Caroline will successfully defend her seat is encouraging and confirms the positive feel we are getting on door steps.

“We’ve seen how polls have gradually been turning in our favour after lower ratings last year with several months of growing support as well as in the euro election - which put us ahead of all the other parties in the constituency - and this may be informing Kellner’s thinking. While no one piece of research is conclusive of this trend on its own, taken together we are seeing real momentum building for Caroline. This is also reflected in the bookies’ current odds which put her in pole position.

“It also suggests that Caroline is picking up support well beyond her own political party and attracting people locally to her cause who are not traditionally Green voters or who may not usually vote at all. Caroline is well-known for keeping a vigilant eye on local people’s behalf and turning the heat on the big Westminster parties so she seems to be gaining credit for getting the concerns of these voters noticed and taken seriously in Westminster.”

McGibbon added, “In July a constituency poll by Tory strategist Lord Ashcroft put us neck and neck with Labour in Brighton Pavilion. The questioning format in this poll favoured Labour as voters were reminded of the Labour option but importantly not the Green option so, if anything, this would have underestimated support for Caroline. We are also quietly pleased by the European results which through careful scrutinising of ballot papers indicated Greens were ahead by more than five percentage points in Brighton Pavilion as reported by the Brighton and Hove Independent newspaper.”

However McGibbon sounded a note of caution on the quality of polling and market research data that might emerge ahead of the election likely on 7th May and urged voters to be on their guard, “While we do our best to rely on robust, scientifically backed polling for our analysis, unfortunately we expect some to be less scrupulous about the accuracy and robustness of surveys they commission or promote.

“There are likely to be some unreliable straw polls and ‘voodoo poll’ claims made that are not safe to use as they would not be professionally undertaken to British Polling Council standards. Our message to people interested in polling trends is to check whether a poll is conducted by a reputable polling company rather than believe the first thing they hear in the news.”

Nick Clegg hails UK-India businesses

The UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has today praised the special relationship between UK and Indian companies on a visit to India's hi-tech capital, Bangalore. Opening a new Tech Hub and UK Indian Business Centre in Bangalore, the Deputy Prime Minister paid tribute to the technical mix of innovative Indian and UK businesses who will form a winning combination to share their expertise and boost UK-India trade.

The final leg of the Deputy Prime Minister's visit with a 40-strong UK business delegation is focused on opportunities for further growth in aerospace, hi-tech and manufacturing between the two countries.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "India is at a major crossroads in its economic destiny, and Bangalore is a shining example of how technological expertise can be harnessed to create a powerhouse for growth. This city is among the top ten preferred locations for entrepreneurs in the world, and home to more start-ups than any other city in India. What I see in Bangalore is that India's prowess in aerospace and hi-tech is growing fast. This is fertile ground for UK and Indian firms to do business, and that's been proven by the deals done today by UK companies setting up shop here in India."

His visits in Bangalore included:
  • Airbus - The Deputy Prime Minister visited the Airbus India facility. The team at Airbus showed the Deputy Prime Minister an advanced simulation to test aircraft parts. The team in India do the computer modelling and link up live to teams in the UK to run the tests on actual parts, such as wings.
  • Seeing the Hawk manufacturing facility at the aircraft division of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The BAE Systems Hawk is a British single-engine advanced jet aircraft produced under licence in India by HAL. The Indian Air Force contracted a second batch of 57 aircraft in 2010.
  • Inaugurating the new UK India Business Centre and the new Tech Hub. The Business Centre is the second to be opened in India (the other being in Delhi) and provides support to UK businesses who want to grow in India. The Tech Hub aims to grow 1,000 Bangalore start-ups in 3 years and link them with the UK
  • Launching Wakefield company Group Rhodes' first base in India. Group Rhodes' facility in Bangalore is expected to create 50-60 new UK jobs in Wakefield and 60 jobs in India in research and development, engineering, and design and supply chain management. Group Rhodes have also signed a contract worth in excess of £2 million pounds with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
  • Pattonair will be opening a permanent Bangalore office at the end of the year to help boost the supply chain in India and provide better service to Indian clients. The company are also pursuing a number of promising opportunities to further expand both their customer and supplier network in India.
Announcing that Renishaw are setting up a metal 3D printing centre at its facility in Pune. Renishaw is a world leader in engineering and science based technologies. Renishaw supplies products used for applications as diverse as jet engine and wind turbine manufacture, through to dentistry and brain surgery. Renishaw is the only UK company that designs and makes industrial machines which 'print' parts from metal powder. Their new technical centre will sit alongside Renishaw's existing key locations in the UK (Gloucestershire, and Miskin in South Wales).

The Deputy Prime Minister has been on a three-day visit to India starting on Monday, leading the first UK trade delegation to the country since the new Indian government was elected in May.

LGA warns of £1bn shortfall for new school places

Council budgets are plugging a national black hole of at least £1 billion in school places funding, town hall leaders are warning today, as research reveals councils have abandoned building projects, cut back on school maintenance and borrowed money, in order to pay for a school place for every child.

New LGA research released today shows more than three-quarters of councils did not receive enough government money to create the extra school places needed in their area between 2011/12 and 2016/17. To make sure no child has been left without a place, councils borrowed money, used cash earmarked for other building programmes or created places with money intended to be spent on renovating crumbling school buildings and classrooms.

The LGA research lays bare the scale of the problem in funding for school places, which council leaders say is too big to be effectively funded at a local level. Instead, councils are calling for government to fully-fund this national black hole. The LGA is also calling for the Government to hand back the full set of powers needed to fulfil this statutory duty.

In some areas of England, particularly in London and the south-east, changing demographics and an increased birth rate have led to particular pressures on school places. Last year, councils created an additional 90,000 primary places, but LGA analysis revealed a further 130,000 would still be needed by 2017/18, while 80,716 new secondary places will be needed by 2019/2020.

Going to extraordinary lengths to ensure there is a place for every child, councils have added extra classes, using temporary buildings and in one case even put a playground on a roof. Through collaboration with all schools in the area councils have created thousands of school places, but more are still needed.

The LGA asked councils if cash provided by the Department for Education had met the full cost of providing school places between 2011/12 and 2016/17. Some 77 per cent of respondents said the money had not been enough. These councils got money from a range of sources including:
  • 38 per cent borrowed money
  • 67 per cent used money from developers
  • 22 per cent took money from other building programmes
  • 50 per cent used cash from other school capital programmes, such as school building maintenance
Individual authority breakdowns include:
  • The London Borough of Ealing has added £129m to its government funding for school places. This includes £114m from prudential borrowing, £11m of funding from other capital budgets and £4m from partnership, Section 106 and revenue funding
  • The London Borough of Hillingdon has added £114 million to its government funding for school places: £92.9 million from prudential borrowing and £21.7 million from developers
  • The London Borough of Barnet has added £70.87 million to its government funding for school places.
  • One council has added £125 million to its government funding for school places, with additional funding from capital receipts, prudential borrowing, developers, diverting capital from other capital programmes and from the revenue account
  • One local authority in the north has added £81.5 million to its government funding for school places
Cllr David Simmonds, Chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People's Board, said: "Mums and dads expect their child to be able to get a place at a good local school and this research shows councils are delivering, but at a cost. Since the pressure on places first emerged, councils have been getting on with the job of creating more, and welcome though government funding is, it is nothing like the full cost. This research lays bare the financial impact on councils of providing school places, which stands at more than £1 billion over a five-year period.

"The scale of this black hole is such that the cost of the creation of new school places cannot be met by council taxpayers. The underfunding of free school meals pales in comparison to this but both show that Government's rhetoric must be matched by its chequebook rather than leaving local authorities to pick up the tab. The lack of school places is no longer confined to primary schools but is spreading to secondary schools, and across the country we estimate more than 200,000 places will be needed.

"Councils face a challenge to create places on time and in the right areas, in a climate where they are also short of money to do so. Additionally, much of the decision making about new school places rests in the hands of the Government, whose funding for school places came too late. As a consequence, councils are carrying a billion pounds worth of costs which has come from other areas. The Government should budget for enough money to ensure something as vitally important as providing school places is not funded from other areas. This is an investment in the future which will benefit us all."

The LGA is also calling for: councils to be given a single capital pot, with an indicative five-year allocation to mirror the next parliament, to enable councils to plan creating school places effectively; councils to be given the powers to create new schools and work locally to find the best academy provider, if this is the preferred choice, and to be given a greater role in judging and approving free school proposals.

In December the Government committed £2.35 billion to provide places up to 2017, but local authorities still face problems because there is not enough money to fund them or not enough space available to build. Government figures estimate the cost of providing a single place is £15,430.

As well as having to pay for new school places, councils have to pick up the cost of additional work, such as removal of asbestos, when the Education Funding Agency pays for new buildings under the Priority Schools Building Programme, which does not cover the full cost of works. The shortfall in money provided for school places comes as the Government has pledged more than £1 billion in funding for free school meals for infant children. Last week, LGA research found capital funded from government to build kitchens was at least £25 million short.

Responding to the LGA report Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' union said:

"The LGA is highlighting a problem which has been well known for some time yet has remained unaddressed. Education is a fundamental right for children and young people in this country. It is unacceptable that for some that will mean class sizes of 40, 50, 60 or even 70, and cuts to much needed facilities. Government needs to realise that urgent measures need to be taken. The free schools programme does not address the problem. It allows for schools to be set up in areas where there is not the need for additional places at tax payers' expense. It is contributing to the problem not solving it."

"Parents and the general public will be genuinely dismayed by the current situation. We need to see a return to coherently planned school provision overseen by the local authority, and there needs to be the funding in place to ensure it happens. Failure to do so will leave this Government responsible for a school place crisis, the effects of which will be far reaching and seriously detrimental to education provision in this country."

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Clegg launches new Dadabhai Naoroji Awards and new exchange programme to deepen links with India

On the second day of his trade mission to India, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has announced major new initiatives to deepen the historic links between the UK and India. In Mumbai, he has established a new award for individuals whose outstanding achievements have strengthened relations between the UK and India. 

The new awards are dedicated to Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Asian Member of the UK Parliament and the man who brought the first Indian business to the UK. The Awards will be open to anyone who wishes to apply and will have three categories - people who have furthered UK-Indian relations in the fields of commerce, culture and education.

The awards will be presented by the Deputy Prime Minister at a Foreign Office ceremony in the Autumn. Nominations will open on 1 September: anyone who would like to nominate an individual, either in the UK or in India, whose achievements have furthered UK-Indian relations in the fields of commerce, culture and education, will be able to do so online.

In addition, a new exchange programme will see thousands of young people from the UK travel to India to work and study. The Deputy Prime Minister announced a new British Council scheme that will see 25,000 young people from the UK visit India over the next five years. This will unlock new opportunities for young people in the UK, benefitting British students whose experience of living and working in India will help equip them for jobs in the global marketplace.

Commenting Nick Clegg said: "It is a great honour to name the awards after Dadabhai Naoroji. The Grand Old Man of India is one of my political heroes, having broken down enormous barriers by entering the British Parliament as the first Asian MP and challenging European prejudices about Indians. He is celebrated for his achievements in India and in the UK, and it is fitting that we should name these awards after him.

"Combined with the huge expansion of exchanges for young people between the UK and India, this award shows the real importance we in Britain attach to our relationship with India. There is no limit on the number of Indian students who can come and study in the UK. We welcome them with open arms because in many ways our education sector is the engine room of our friendship. That is why I was so keen to bring universities and colleges with me as part of my delegation so they can extend the unique experience of a British education to more Indian students."

Other universities and education establishments in the delegation also announced new links with India today:

  • The Deputy Prime Minister celebrated the achievements of the UK-India Education and Research Initiative, which today launched a new initiative which will see Indian community colleges partner with further education institutions in the UK. The colleges will receive £25,000 for innovative partnerships that could include teacher training, engagement with the local community and new curriculum materials.
  • A new Education UK Alumni Award, which will open for nominations in October to recognise Indians who studied in the UK and made an impact on their return to India. The awards will demonstrate the benefits of a British university education, both to the students themselves and to their wider communities.
  • In addition, he announced today that 25 Chevening Scholarships will be reserved for young Indian entrepreneurs. These scholarships will offer highly enterprising individuals - Indian's future business leaders - the opportunity to study a one-year Master's at any UK university.
  • British company Global Education Management Ltd has signed a memorandum of understanding with Amity University School of Hospitality. This will mean more students moving in both directions to undertake internships and work experience in the hospitality industry. Ultimately, GEM estimates this will mean that it will bring around £250,000 more business with India every year, with greater benefits for both economies as the workforce becomes more adaptable and better trained.
  • Bournville College in the West Midlands will open a £500,000 Centre of Excellence in Kolkata at the end of the year to train local people in "soft skills", technical education and healthcare.

Nick Clegg announces £13m of new film investment in UK from India

During his visit to a film set in Mumbai today, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg announced that Vistaar Productions is to invest £13 million in the UK over the next twelve months, including a new post-production facility in Manchester. The new facility will be used as a hub for the editing of Indian films being shot in the UK, creating jobs and attracting further investment from the Bollywood industry.

Mr Clegg launched the filming of the new Vistaar production Veda at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, operating the clapperboard on the first shot and meeting the cast and crew. This Indian interpretation of Shakespeare's Hamlet will be produced in both the UK and India. It is due for release in the autumn of 2015.

Vistaar today announced that they will be investing £13 million in the UK over the next 18 months, including approximately £3.9 million for the British filming of Veda and £7.2 million in the new production Guru Dutt, which will be partly made in the UK.

The Deputy Prime Minister said: "I wish Vistaar every success in their UK venture. Amid the colour, the drama and the spectacle of Bollywood, it is easy to forget how important it is to the Indian economy, generating hundreds of millions of pounds in Mumbai and the rest of India. As we have seen with American co-productions on a grand scale, Britain is one of the world's top destinations for film makers. I hope Indian producers will follow their counterparts in the US and take advantage of the UK's facilities, expertise and glorious locations to create the next Indian Star Wars or Game of Thrones."

Vistaar Managing Director Sheetal Talwar said: "We feel that the current government has provided an ecosystem that has made investing and filming in the UK highly efficient and investor friendly. We are working with entertainment specialist Chartered Accountants Nyman Libson Paul and Goldfinch to explore and invest in further projects in the UK. We feel that our British investments shall give us opportunity to grow the business and help us achieve market leadership in our sector of socially responsible cinema"

Bollywood, India's contribution to the international film market, is the largest film producing industry in the world. It is based in Mumbai, with films predominantly in the Hindi language. A large number of Bollywood films have been filmed in the UK which have served to generate tourism to those locations from India and overseas. The Indian film industry has shot over 50 films in the UK over the past decade, and Hindi-language films frequently enter the UK top ten.

Boris is 5/2 favourite to be the next Tory leader

Ladbrokes have paid out on bets on Boris Johnson to stand in Uxbridge & South Ruislip in 2015. Despite the Mayor of London still having to go through a local selection process, the bookies quote odds of 50/1 that he fails to be selected as Tory candidate so have already settled all bets on him replace Sir John Randall as winners. The odds for Uxbridge & South Ruislip at the general election suggest Johnson has over a 98% chance of retaining the seat for the Conservatives. UKIP are the nearest challengers at 20/1.

Alex Donohue of Ladbrokes said: "We think it's a formality that Boris will be selected as the candidate and then elected as MP next May. He was already favourite to be next Tory leader and David Cameron might be looking nervously over his shoulder as the Boris bandwagon moves back to Westminster."

Ladbrokes latest betting

Uxbridge & South Ruislip general election odds:

  • 1/50 Conservatives
  • 20/1 UKIP
  • 50/1 Labour
  • 100/1 Liberal Democrats

50/1 Boris Johnson fails to be selected as Tory candidate for Uxbridge

Next Tory leader:

  • 5/2 Boris Johnson
  • 9/2 Theresa May
  • 7/1 George Osborne
  • 14/1 Michael Gove
  • 16/1 Philip Hammond
  • 16/1 Sajid Javid
In other political betting news the bookmaker William Hill have opened a market on how many seats UKIP will win at the General Election - and are offering odds of 9/4 that the Party will end up with five or more.

"UKIP are already odds-on to win in South Thanet where Nigel Farage is expected to stand, and are also odds-on to collect more votes than the Lib Dems, so they must have every chance of emerging from the General Election with their first MPs" said Hill's spokesman Graham Sharpe.